An international team of physicists has “stumbled on” an entirely new material, which they have called “Weyl-Kondo semimetal”. The “semimetal” belongs to a category of substances known as “quantum materials”. Quantum materials have various quirky properties, some of which could contribute to future technological innovations like quantum computing that is regarded by many as the next revolution in computer technology. These new findings, published in the journal of “Proceedings of the National Academy” were reached through joint work with a team at the Vienna University of Technology carrying out experimental work to develop new materials, and a team at Rice University carrying out theoretical work. Prof Silke Buehler, who led the Vienna team and her fellows, experimented with structures made from the metals(cerium, bismuth and palladium) in very specific combinations. Then the theoretical experiments were being done by Dr. Hsin-Hua Lai at Rice University, who realized the potential to create an entirely new material.
“We really just stumbled on a model in which, suddenly, we found that the mass had gone from like 1,000 times the mass of an electron to zero,” said Dr. Lai. This is one of the characteristics of “Weyl-Kondo semimetal”. The scientists realized that these elusive andnearly massless particles in this new material were originating due to a phenomenon known as the “Kondo effect”, which is referred to as “the Special behavior” of some electrical conductors at low temperatures. This has led the scientists to name the new material as “Weyl-Kondo semimetal”. “Currently we design these materials to find new effects which could be very useful, with respect to the technological applications like quantum computing.”
The source: The Independent